April 1, 2009

No Fooling - It Is Spring

Mother Nature isn't playing any tricks on us for April Fool's Day. A visit to Coker Arboretum on the UNC Campus proves that spring has arrived!

In the Arboretum, the white blooms of both dogwoods and viburnum brighten up the shady pathways. The redbuds are beautiful and some of the camellias are in bloom, too.

The Arboretum labels most plants and so I noticed that the Burkwood Viburnum family has changed. This is one of my favorite viburnums for a spring show of white flowers. Besides the floral display, I love the fragrance of this viburnum. Suitable for zones 5-8, this shrub grows up to ten feet high and eight feet wide. Around here, it used mostly in part shade, but it can take a bit of sun with afternoon shade.

Under the canopy of trees, the hellebores are planted en masse and still in bloom.

Among other forest floor plants is the southeastern native, Little Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum).

Little Sweet Betsy is one of the first trilliums to bloom and one of the largest. It can grow up to 15 inches high. It loves limestone soils and the population of this trillium can explode to the thousands under the right forest conditions.

One of the brightest blooms in the garden is from the Golden Ragwort, an eastern US native perennial. This native blooms profusely on thin, but sturdy stems. This ragwort is in the aster family and sometimes called Groundsel.

Other native flowers in bloom include Fern-leaf Scorpion-weed. That's a scary name for such a pretty, lavender-blue flower! This native is a reseeding biennial that grows 1-2 feet high.

The spring color display is just starting. Over the next few weeks, the gardens and woods of Chapel Hill will be full of beautiful spring blooms!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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